To paraphrase the Buddha: “Don’t live in the past, don’t dream of the future, focus on the present moment.”
Do you know the importance of parsing? Do you know how to use subscribed software so that it is understandable to the human eye? If not, read this article now. Here you’ll discover some of the software that helps you stay legal and trustworthy with other sites and standardize data-driven from them.
It also helps you to stay away from any cyber activity as the data accessed by you is completely parsed by the software. There are also a number of companies that provide parsing services and rely on the data they provide to you.
This is good advice if you want to study mindfulness and find inner peace, but if you want to learn how to extract data from websites for the best business intelligence around, you’ll need to dream somewhat of the future. Well, it’s called ‘Planning’!
Data parsing, more widely known shortly after ‘web scraping’, is a method of extracting large amounts of data from the Internet in a format that is useful to the person or company performing the extraction. This may be for obtaining information about a competitor, or for business plan research to assess pricing and product popularity trends. But to be successful in getting that kind of information, there are some ethical, legal and technical issues to consider before embarking on your data parsing journey.
First, you need to choose which technology package to use to do the parsing, assuming you’re not outsourcing the task to a third party. You might also want to find a platform that integrates digital adoption software to make your learning process as quick and easy as possible. Let’s take a look at what is involved in web scraping and data parsing:
If you look through the terms and conditions of most websites, you will find that they often have a clause explicitly prohibiting web scraping software from accessing their site. For example, from the terms of service of the website of SkyScanner:
“You [also] Agree not to allow any unauthorized automated computer program, software agent, bot, spider or other software or application to scan, copy, index, sort or otherwise use our Services or Platform or the data contained therein…”
Many companies use what is known as a ‘residential proxy server’, which ‘fools’ the targeted website into detecting the data collection is nothing but busy potential holidaymakers looking for a flight. Still, if your web scraping activity is explicitly prohibited in a website’s terms of service, then in theory, you could get into substantial legal trouble if you get caught and identified.
If you re-use any content you derive from the data you parse, you may also be participating in a violation of privacy laws (downloading data without one’s permission) and copyright law.
Several established web scraping platforms exist, such as ParseHub, BeautifulSoup, Selenium, and Scrapy. Choose one from the best reviews for help and support, if they do not offer a digital adoption platform (DApp) running with them. A DApp is a learning layer attached to the primary software, providing help and tooltips to novice users and even experienced operators following software updates and user interface (UI) changes.
Importantly, a dApp is hyper-personalized using artificial intelligence (AI), so it helps different users in different ways according to their needs and capabilities. Running a dApp with a software package is like having a friendly, knowledgeable colleague sitting next to you, offering assistance only when needed. This prevents users from getting annoying and redundant tooltips and help pop-ups that are not needed. DApps make adopting and learning new software packages much easier than creating support tickets or spending hours trawling through help forums.
What exactly is parsing bit?
Web scraping usually involves a bot downloading massive amounts of data from a website that, when viewed in its raw format, would be incomprehensible to most human eyes. Native data comes in the form of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), XPath (coding language), Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) selectors, and all manner of technical twaddles that make non-scientists’ heads spin.
In short, parsing makes data collected from websites understandable to the human eye and allows its contents to be copy/pasted into almost any other form of standard ‘office’ software.
To outsource or not to outsource? that is the question.
In short, if you are in a business that needs a one-off research project, you are almost certainly better off contacting a company that provides web scraping and data parsing services, then they can provide you with the services you need. Pay you to find the data, then present it to you in a usable format. This also means that you are less likely to get involved in any cyber-security scams!
But if it’s an ongoing part of your business strategy to be able to monitor trends and competitors every month or every week, you’ll probably need to reach out to a web scraping platform. Try to stay legal, or at least use a good Virtual Private Network (VPN) and residential proxy server to remain anonymous in your activities.
Finally, learn how to use the software you subscribe to for optimal output, and make sure you take advantage of the data you get by running high-quality analytics. After all, data is the new digital gold. There’s no point in being stuffed up to your neck but unable to capitalize on the priceless business intelligence within.